My name is Jude Sante, and September 24, 1998, is a date I will never forget. I have no actual recollection of the day, but I’ve heard this story so many times, it’s more a memory than anything else.

The story begins on one of the crowded streets in the busy section of one of the largest cities in the Philippines. A woman was walking by and happened to notice a helpless creature lying in the gutter. Now, gutters in the Philippines are unlike those in the western world, which are already lowly, disgusting places. Here, years of trash, mud, sewage have caked the gutters. The stench, while most locals have gotten used to it, is distracting to anyone unfamiliar with the sting of the smells wafting through the humid island air. Needless to say, the gutter is one of the most undesirable places to be in.

That helpless creature was me. I was utterly alone, abandoned, and left to die in one of the dirtiest places I could be. The passerby picked me up and took me to an infant care institution in the Philippines. No one claimed or identified me, so I spent the next four years of my life living there. I was loved and cared for, along with many other babies and toddlers left in similar situations.

This center only cared for children until they were five years old. So, the caretakers referred me to AMG International’s Home of Hope. During this transition time, I was legally declared abandoned, neglected, and of no value to society. While it was easy to find myself taking on that label as my identity, God placed the right people in my life to show me that none of those descriptions had any truth to them.

I was almost five years old when I started living at Home of Hope. There I learned what it was like to have brothers and sisters as we all lived together under one roof as a family uniquely knit together by God. The houseparents raised us with the love of Christ, teaching us about His forever family by sharing the gospel with us. Because of their support, I was able to walk the long and difficult emotional journey of healing from my past. It is because of God’s grace that I am now His child and have become a God-fearing man.

Jude is the 4th from the right

I am highly favored and blessed by the Lord, and I can say that with full confidence. It is not because of anything I have done, but truly out of God’s mercy that I was rescued from the gutter and brought to safety. Through His love, I have forgiven my birth parents for abandoning me, because I know this was a part of God’s sovereign plan for my life. I am so thankful they brought me into this world, and I pray one day I will meet them.

I am in my second year of seminary, and I am determined to serve God by preaching the Good News and meeting the deepest needs of my community, both spiritually and physically. God has been fighting for me since the day I was born, and He has never left me, and I want others to know the same kind of redeeming love I know.